48 Hours in Munich

In the more than two years that we have called Munich home, we have learned a great deal about the local culture, found some favorite haunts that we keep coming back to, and were often called upon to give visiting friends and family an authentic taste of Bavaria. Today, our last day in the city, we’re sharing our best tips with you. In the spirit of the New York Times 36 hours series, here’s our guide to experiencing traditional, Bavarian Munich in 48 hours.

Let’s begin with assuming that you’re here in the summer. To make up for the truly miserable, soul-sucking winters we have to survive here, Mother Nature is kind enough to give us some of the most absolutely gorgeous summers. The best time to visit is between June and August. If you absolutely must visit in the winter though, come in December when the Christmas markets are on and the weather is not yet too cold to sustain life.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

Friday

4pm—Augustiner Keller Biergarten
Admit it, you’re here for the beer aren’t you? Your first order of business after you get off the train is to head straight to the Augustiner Biergarten. Grab a Maß of Munich’s best beer and relax in the shade of the giant chestnut trees that have been there since the 1800s.

5.30pm—Bavaria Statue
Take a wander across the Hackerbrücke to the Theresienwiese, the scene of Oktoberfest. Halfway down you’ll spot the colossal statue of Bavaria. In the summer, between the hours of 9am and 6pm, you can climb the inside of the statue and enjoy views over the city while seated on a plush sofa made of cast bronze.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

7pm—Haxnbauer
It’s only appropriate that on your first night in Munich you’re gnawing on a huge hunk of pork. Pork knuckle—basically it’s your own personal pork roast in miniature, complete with crackling—is the signature Munich dish. You can get it pretty much anywhere in the city, but the best is at Haxnbauer. As you walk past the window, you can watch the Hax’n roasting in front of a charcoal grill. Make your way inside and find a seat. Demolishing an entire Schweinshaxe single-handed is a herculean task, but luckily the standard order is for half of one. Make sure to order a side of mashed potatoes and to switch out the included {cold} Krautsalat for the excellent {warm} Sauerkraut or the out-of-this-world-amazing Apfel Blaukraut. Alternatively, the sliced pork knuckle {my go-to order} comes with mashed potatoes and Sauerkraut already and saves you the trouble of sawing it off the bone if learning primitive surgery in public is not your idea of a good time. Most of the beers here are from outside Munich and are pretty ordinary representatives of their types, but the Franziskaner Weißbier is a notable exception.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

9pm—Hofbraühaus
Take a wander over to the Hofbräuhaus which is just around the corner. While I can’t recommend the beer or the food, just seeing the Hofbräuhaus is a Munich must. Have a look at the regulars’ Steins that have been passed down from generation to generation which are kept under lock and key to your left as you walk in the main entrance. Walk through the hall and enjoy Bavarian classics like Sweet Home Alabama being played by the Oompah band while seeing the waitresses carry upwards of 10 maß’n at a time.

Saturday

Breakfast at a Bakery
Get to Marienplatz a little early and stop by Rischart for a quick breakfast. Load up for breakfast and morning tea. Their chocolate croissants are seriously the best I’ve ever had.

10am—Sandemann’s NewEurope Free Walking Tour
Meet in front of the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz for the free walking tour {the guides work for tips}. Usually led by english-speaking university students, this is a informative and funny tour where you get a feel for the layout of the city and learn something new every time. The tour takes about 3 hours and ends at the Viktualienmarkt. Take a wander through, have a look at the different food stalls, and maybe grab some dried fruit or some nice cheese from the cheesemonger.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

3pm—Hirschgarten
Hop on the S-Bahn and head out to the Hirschgarten, a former royal hunting ground, for a late lunch. Though it’s off the tourist trail, it is actually the largest Biergarten in Bavaria with over 8000 seats. Munich Biergärten are all self-service, but Hirschgarten is the last to maintain the tradition of patrons selecting and washing their own glasses. So grab yourself a Maß, have it filled with Augustiner and collect a plate of Obatzda {a delicious slurry of cheeses} and a große Wies’n-Breze {a giant pretzel bigger than your head}. Then it’s time to sample Munich’s most primal delicacy. The recipe for Steckerlfisch is simple: take one fish—gutted but otherwise intact {skin and head on}—shove it on a stick, rub liberally with salt and grill over an open charcoal fire before serving rolled up in a piece of paper. Head over to the Steckerlfisch stand and pick up a Mackrele. Settle yourself down at a table near where the deer still browse and enjoy a nice quiet lunch.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

5pm—Schloss Nymphenburg
The former royal hunting grounds are, unsurprisingly, located not far from a magnificent royal palace. From Hirschgarten, take a short walk to Romanplatz and jump on Tram 12 to make your way to Schloss Nymphenburg. If you’re only in Bavaria for a couple of days and don’t have time to visit the famed Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles {or the lesser-known Herrenchiemsee}, Nymphenburg is a great consolation prize. My advice, though, is to just focus on the gardens. They are massive, gorgeous and, best of all, free! Take a stroll through the paths, watch the swans, maybe check out the botanical garden, and definitely wander down the canal.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

8pm—Tollwood
Munich knows how to put on a good festival. While Oktoberfest is certainly the most famous, if you’re here between late June and early August, you’ve lucked out. The Tollwood summer festival is on and it is one of the best, with food from all over the world, music and a general hippy vibe. Hop back on Tram 12 and make your way to Olympiapark to pay it a visit. {Infanteriestrasse is the tram stop. From there just follow the crowds.} Be sure to check out the Marrakech tent to see the craft they’re demonstrating and to see some traditional performances. If you’re in the mood for another beer, head to the Andechs tent where you can sample a bit of the monks’ brew.

{If you have an extra day in Munich, I highly recommend taking a trip out to Andechs which is just south of Munich and reachable from the S-Bahn. The monastery is perched high on a hill and, after a bit of a hike, you can cool down with one of their nice, cold brews. They also have some great pork knuckle.}

Amid a stand of trees in the middle of Tollwood {just behind the Marrakech tent} lies one of Munich’s hidden gems, the Ost-West Friedenskirche. It’s a church built by a refugee Russian priest from found materials, beginning in the 1940s, and still maintained as a museum after his death at the age of 110 in 2004. During the festival it’s open well into the evening.

Sunday

9am—Weißwurst Frühstück at the Weißes Bräuhaus
Weißwurst Frühstück is about as Bavarian as you get. In fact, I was staying with a Bavarian family for my first Christmas here in Munich and this is what we had for Christmas breakfast. Weißwürste, meaning white sausages, are made of veal but without any of the preservatives that you usually find in sausages. As a result, they are traditionally eaten only before noon on the day that they are made. The Weißes Bräuhaus is famous for maintaining this tradition, as well as for being the HQ for Schneider Weiss and hence home of the world’s best Weißbier, and for offering a chance at experiencing the traditional Bavarian attitude of the wait staff {though, disappointingly, our waitresses have almost always been extremely nice}. It’s a Munich institution.

Ordering before noon, though, is only the first piece of Weißwurst protocol that must be observed to successfully navigate the minefield of potential Weißwurst faux pas. It is also critical that you do not eat the skin, and there are three culturally-approved methods to effect its removal. The first, and easiest for beginners, is to begin by cutting the sausage in half. Stick your fork in the cut end and then slit the skin down the length of the sausage. Slip your knife under the skin along one side of the cut to get an edge loose and peel from there. Extra difficulty points can be earner by doing essentially the same thing but without cutting it in half at the beginning. Finally, the most advanced technique is known as the ‘auszuzeln’ method (most likely for its onomatopoeic qualities), and simply entails sucking the sausage out. Use your best discretion.

Weißwürste and the accompanying pretzels {serve yourself from the big basket on the table} should both be eaten dipped in the sweet mustard that Bavaria is famous for, and washed down with a Schneider Weißbier. There are about ten beers to choose from, ranging from the Original to my favorite, the spring-y Mein Grünes to the Aventinus which is a dark, doppelbock and the Kiwi’s particular favorite. For a special treat try the Aventinus Eisbock, which looks similar to the regular Aventinus but adds even more amazing, complex flavours into the mix—and weighs in at a hefty 12% alcohol, though in a mercifully smaller serving size. Feel weird drinking with the sun still below the yardarm? Don’t. Everyone else will be too. When in Munich, right?

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

11am—Museum Brandhorst
Now that you’re sufficiently boozed up, it’s seems like a good time to head to a museum. The museum quarter boasts four art museums, each dedicated to a different era, and they all cost only €1 apiece on Sundays. You can choose between the old masters {Alte Pinakothek}, 19th Century {Neue Pinakothek} or modern {Pinakothek der Moderne}, but for us Museum Brandhorst is the one you can’t miss. Seeded by the private collection of Udo and Annett Brandhorst, this museum holds impressive works of contemporary and pop art from the likes of Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke, and, my personal favorite, Cy Twombly. Seriously, there is a whole floor of Twomblys, including a room specially designed to display the epic series Lepanto. An entire floor, folks. I’m pretty sure heaven is a bit like that.

1pm—Englischer Garten and Seehaus
Join the masses of Münchners and take a walk through the Englisher Garten {so-called because of its informal layout, in contrast to a formal French garden}. Stroll past the Prinzregentenstraße bridge and see the surfers, then head into the garden. Take a walk past the Chinesischer Turm Biergarten to see the tower, but keep on going north. A better Biergarten awaits. You will eventually happen upon a lake and on the far side of said lake lies your destination, Seehaus. It’s the perfect place to relax, have a nice, cold beer {they serve Paulaner}, admire the swans and watch folks row their boats on the lake. When you finish that beer you might even take a boat out yourself.

Advertisements

Hong Kong, China

Sorry for the radio silence last week y’all. In the process of checking continent number five off of the list and in an effort to really be present on this trip, I ended up unplugging for a week. It wasn’t planned, but apparently, really needed.

I am sorry for not giving you a heads up though. Can you forgive me? How about I make it up by dropping a ton of eye candy in the form of some iPhone shots from the week on you? That cool?

Thought so.

tea at the Peninsula {wanderlust: hong kong}{my handsome date for afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel}

bbq pork buns made in my dim sum class {wanderlust: hong kong}{bbq pork buns I made in my dim sum class}

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach{tian tan buddah on Lantau island}

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach

{wanderlust: hong kong} from kiwi and peach

Marrakech Food Guide

Happy Monday my friends! I’ve kind of missed y’all.

After our whirlwind of a week exploring Marrakech and the edge of the Sahara, the Kiwi and I are back in Europe and back to business as usual, except that, you know, we’re in Paris. We’re installed in our cute little apartment in Montmartre, the Kiwi is all set up to work, and I am all set to go explore…

But it’s a cold and rainy Monday and most places are closed. So I think I’ll stay right here on the couch with my hot cup of tea and fill y’all in on our African adventures.

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Marrakech Food Guide from Kiwi and Peach

If you stick with the traditional foods and traditional preparation methods, I think it is impossible to have a bad meal in Morocco. A bold statement I know, but the thing is that the traditional foods are so incredibly basic that they are really hard to mess up.

Unfortunately we didn’t have that much time actually in Marrakech to explore all the eats because we were out in the Sahara being fed by our Berber guides, who were wonderful cooks, and having an adventure.

The places we were able to check out though were just outstanding.

Seriously, some of the best I’ve ever had.

The first night after we came back from the dessert we headed to Dar Belkabir. Tucked just off the main square and ridiculously inexpensive, this traditional eatery offers up a few different tajines {I went with the beef and prune} and the Couscous Royal, a Moroccan specialty that is definitely not for vegetarians {it has chicken and sausage}. Needless to say, my carnivore was a very happy man.

The next day we headed to Diaffa for lunch. Diaffa is bit more upscale, but still reasonably priced by European standards {16-20€ for a main}. It’s  housed in one of the oldest buildings in the Medina and, besides the Madrassa, is easily the most beautiful building we saw. The food wasn’t half bad either {understatement of the week}. The Kiwi’s cockerel with candied lemons was fresh and moist. Not really knowing what it was, I ordered a quintessential Marrakech dish, the Tangia Marrakchia. All I knew was that it wasn’t a tajine, so I was a bit surprised {and a bit intimidated} when our waitress walks out with the biggest tajine I’ve ever seen. How on Earth was I supposed to eat all of that myself?! The intimidation/surprise must have shown because she gave us a knowing smile and then made a production of removing the lid to show just a plate with four lime wedges. We all had a chuckle, and then she went back for the food–a clay pot that had been cooking over a fire for hours and contained the most tender beef I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Really we can’t recommend it enough.

other Marrakech advice

If you’re interested in doing a camel trek out in the Sahara, this is the company we used. Had we had time to do a three day one we might have used Omar {the camel guys it seems}, but this two day one was the perfect length of time for us. The drive is long {7 hours each way} but beautiful and the time on the camel is blessedly short {because camels are actually really uncomfortable to ride}, but the campfire, the drums, the singing, and the stars made it such an unforgettable and amazing experience.

We stayed in a Riad {little palace} near the city wall pretty far north of the main square. It was a bit of a walk to get back each night, but we were really in an authentic neighborhood. No tourists there. That said Les Lauriers Blancs was absolutely beautiful and the owner was just the sweetest. She even got up early to make us breakfast on the day we were leaving since we had to leave before they usually started serving breakfast.

Go shopping. We got nearly all of our Christmas shopping done on this trip. {Surprise family!} If you’re up for haggling the souks are the place, but we headed to the Ensemble Artisanal where a bunch of co-ops have set up workshops. The prices there are set {but extremely reasonable} and you can watch them at their work. One bunch of smart ladies even got you to do their work for them.

Rome Food Guide

When we’re headed to a new city, the first thing I do after booking the hotel is start researching places to eat. We’ve traveled {are are going to be traveling} to places with amazing food cultures. I want to eat all the things. Everything. I don’t want to waste an opportunity on a bad meal at the some touristy joint. And I would say that about 90% of the time the research pays off and we eat well. What’s my secret? Expats. Or more specifically, expats who know their food.

When I started researching Rome, Katie Parla’s name kept coming up a lot. After graduating from Yale, she moved to Italy and has racked up a number of degrees all focused on Italian food. She has a blog, she co-founded The Rome Digest {another great resource}, and most importantly for us, she has an app.

Besides being full of great recommendations, this app’s map works offline–something I think would make most travelers jump for joy–and leads you to nearby restaurants that will knock your socks off. Seriously these places are so good!

Read on to see some of our favorites {and a couple places we stumbled upon that weren’t on the app}.

rome food guide{photo by the Kiwi}

L’Asino D’Oro
Following the app, our first stop was L’Asino D’Oro. It was relatively close to our apartment near the Colosseum, so when we set out to explore the area, we ended up near this gem. After a mysterious but oh so tasty amuse bouche, The Kiwi dived into his wild boar with chocolate sauce while I had lamb meatballs with peppers in a licorice sauce. For dessert we tried the Bavarian and  indulged in a pudding with sage and saffron. Everything was creative. Everything was delicious. We didn’t have reservations and lucked out with the last table outside. Loads of people started getting turned away. My advice? Make a reservation because this place is too good to leave it to luck.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach

Pizzarium
The next day we headed over to the Vatican to see St. Peters and to do the Vatican museum. Before we headed into the museum we were getting a bit peckish, so following the app, we nipped down the stairs across from the museum entrance and just down the road was the best pizza I have every had. This tiny little shop has at least 10 different pizzas on offer. You tell them which ones you want to try and they’ll cut off squares. In the end we tried these; {from top to bottom, right to left} roasted peppers and tomato sauce; tomato pesto and arugula; potato, Roma cheese, green beans and marinated onions;  and ricotta and pickled zucchini. They also have a number of craft beers to wash that pizza down with. Best. Lunch. Ever.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach {Pizzarium}

Colline Emiliane
After a long day of sightseeing that culminated at the Trevi fountain we fired up the app to find some dinner. We were directed to Colline Emiliane and, after a 2 hour wait {make reservations y’all!}, we finally got to feast. We started with melon and prosciutto, an amazing combination. For our mains we decided to carbo load. I went with their famous pumpkin ravioli while the Kiwi dove into the spaghetti carbonara. For dessert I had spied a lemon meringue pie on our way in so my choice was easy. The Kiwi chose the cheese plate and man were both delish.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+PeachRome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach

Armando al Pantheon
The next night we knew were were going to end up near the Pantheon so we went ahead and made reservations at Armando al Pantheon. I did not want to be waiting two hours for dinner again and the app says that reservations here are pretty essential. The Kiwi absolutely loved his duck with prunes and my guinea fowl with mushrooms and black beer sauce was pretty good too.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach

Panella
While walking around our neighborhood one day we came upon the coolest bakery/restaurant/food shop I’ve ever been to. We stumbled across it during the pre-dinner cocktail hour so they had all kinds of creative looking foods and baked goods laid out buffet style and I was dying to give it a try. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a table, so we decided to come back the next day for lunch. While it is kind of chaotic in there, the food was completely worth it. Between the zucchini blossom pizza, roasted tomato stuffed with risotto and rosemary potatoes, and the whole meal cake with blueberries we had that day, and the big loaf of seedy bread we got for lunches the next couple days I can safely say this place was a winner, even if it wasn’t on the app.

Donkey Punch
On our final day in Rome we found ourselves in the middle of the Trastevere and a downpour was imminent. We were starving and knew we needed to take shelter pretty quickly. As the first drops started to fall we ducked in to the first place we saw, Donkey Punch. This place could not have been any more perfect. After we ordered, the Metallica {pepper salami, cream porcini, mushrooms, and provolone} for the Kiwi and the Rolling Stones {truffle cheese, raw prosciutto, and arugula} for me, we settled in with our craft beers {an Italian IPA and a saison} and waited out the rainstorm while chatting about beer with the owner. This guy knew his stuff!

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach {Donkey Punch in the Trastevere}     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach {Donkey Punch in the Trastevere}

{other Rome tips}

Most places don’t open for dinner until 7pm and if you don’t have reservations you might be waiting for a while. Plan accordingly.

Have I mentioned you should get this app?

Linked with Travel Tuesday

Naples Food Guide

Let’s take a day trip to Naples.

After Florence we made our way down the boot to Rome. While there, we took a day trip to Pompeii stopping on our way back in Naples just so we could eat some real Napoli pizza.

After some research, we decided on heading towards Starita. We had left Pompeii earlier than we’d planned because it started bucketing with rain, so we arrived at Starita {after navigating possibly the sketchiest part of Naples} around 5pm. It was clear that they weren’t open for dinner yet but a kind neighbor that was passing told us they opened at 6. That seemed like a reasonable time to wait. Besides, we had a awning over us and I had a good book. I could have waited forever. Which is exactly how long it felt like we ended up waiting. Turns out Mr. Kind Neighbor was mistaken. They don’t open until 7. Could we have gone elsewhere? Sure, but we would have been flying blind and we weren’t in a big hurry. I can tell you this though, it was worth every minute we waited to eat some of that pizza. Y’all, it. was. so. good.

Naples Food Guide | kiwi+peach    Naples Food Guide | kiwi+peach    Naples Food Guide | kiwi+peach

So what did we have? I got the classic margherita which uses all DOP {Protected Destination of Origin} marinara, buffalo mozzarella and basil on top the traditional Napoli pizza crust which in and of itself is unique. The Kiwi’s pie had pecorino, pumpkin flower, walnut cream, and zucchini on it. While mine might have been a classic, his was genius and so very tasty. As were finishing our pies, I was starting to feel as if I couldn’t look at food again for days, so naturally we ordered dessert. A dessert pie with fresh ricotta, almond slivers, and warm honey drizzled over top. There are no words. It was just… amazing.

And with that amazing meal, our short time in Naples came to a close as we rushed back to the main train station to catch the train back to Rome, the final stop on our Tour of Italy and food-wise, our most successful town to explore.

{I hesitate to call this a food guide since we only went to one place. Obviously this is not comprehensive, so if you have some favorite eatin’ spots in Naples, please share in the comments!}

Florence Food Guide

While Cinque Terre was my must-see for our tour of Italy, Florence was the place for the Kiwi. He was drawn to the history, the art, and, yes, the food. I can safely say that he was not disappointed and neither was I. Florence was simply amazing–and full of tasty places to grab a bite.

Florence Food Guide | kiwi+peachphoto by the Kiwi

Based on Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy’s glowing recommendation, the first place we headed to upon our arrival in Florence was Trattoria ZaZa. They have an entire truffle menu, folks. An entire menu. In comparison the only thing we get full menus of in Germany is asparagus. {Keep on with your truffles ZaZa.}

It was also just down the street from the apartment we had rented, so since it was so convenient, we ended up eating there more than was strictly necessary. Sure we tried other places, but its hard to beat fried polenta with truffle wild boar sauce or spaghetti carbonara with truffle seasoning. Or pizza with truffle cheese. Or baked herbed rabbit with steamed spinach and garlic. Or truffle french fries. Can you tell we were fans? If you only eat at one place in Florence, eat here. You won’t regret it.

Florence Food Guide: Trattoria Za'Za' | kiwi+peach     Florence Food Guide: Trattoria Za'Za' | kiwi+peach

Somewhere I read about a stand in the Mercato Centrale called Nerbone that we absolutely had to try, and since it was within spiting distance of Trattoria ZaZa, we really had no excuse. This place has been going since 1872, and whatever they have that day, is what they have. It’s the luck of the draw. I love places like that because, let’s be real, folks wouldn’t take the risk if it wasn’t all delicious. The line was long, but totally, totally worth it just for a bite of their shaved pork sandwich, roasted pork {with crackling} and bread skewer, and some delicious fresh pesto pasta.

Florence Food Guide: Nerbone at Mercato Centrale | kiwi+peach     Florence Food Guide: Nerbone at Mercato Centrale | kiwi+peach

This last place we found by accident. We had been trying really hard all week to make it to this place called Zeb by the city wall near Piazza Michelangelo. We went back three different times and they were closed each time. Real bummer too because I heard it was so good. But anyway. Each time we tried to go there we walked by this place, Bevo Vino, that had the best looking Aperol spritzes I had ever seen. It was always busy with Italians sipping and eating this comfy little cafe. On our last day we struck out again at Zeb, so we decided to give this place a go. It was lunch so the place wasn’t as chocka as we had seen it previously in fact we pretty much had it to ourselves, but y’all the food was so good! I had a sandwich on warm focaccia with with cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and capers. The Kiwi ordered the summer parmigiana which consisted of layers of grilled eggplant, thick slices of mozzarella, and juicy tomatoes sprinkled with basil. Yum!

Florence Food Guide: Bevo Vino | kiwi+peach

{other Florence tips}

Get the FirenzeCard. Just do it. It’s good for 72 hours and gets you into pretty much everything, you don’t have to make reservations, and you get to skip the lines in most places. It also gets you free wifi.

Climb all the stairs. We did the Duomo {stairs}, the bell tower, the Palazzo Vecchio tower, and climbed up to the Piazza Michelangelo. The views are stunning, and you’ll work off all that tasty, tasty food you’ve been eating.

Don’t miss the Galileo Museum. Things like the Duomo, the Uffizi, and Palazzo Vecchio are a given, but the Galileo Museum is a gem for science lovers.

Linked with Travel Tuesdays

Cinque Terre Food Guide

When we started planning this Tour of Italy, I knew that no trip would be complete for me without a visit to the Cinque Terre. It has been on my list since before study abroad 4+ years ago. When I was over here for study abroad, we had only four weekends free to travel wherever we wanted to. Obviously I had a list a mile long, but we had to choose carefully. In the end we opted to travel places that we thought we wouldn’t come back to on holiday. Since pretty much all of us had been to Italy before and we wanted to check different countries off our lists and since Italy is like tourist destination no. 1 in Europe, the Cinque Terre didn’t make the cut. {Ironically, the places that we did choose were Prague, Amsterdam, Paris, and Interlaken. Man, us Capital T’s–T stands for thrill– were adventurous.}

There as no way I was missing Cinque Terre this time around. I couldn’t wait to see those colorful little towns nestled into the sides of cliffs. I couldn’t wait to hike the famous Sentiero Azzuro. Most importantly thought, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some of that pesto! I mean, this is where pesto was invented, so you know it must be good.

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food GuideManarola

We stayed in Vernazza, so that is where we ate dinner most nights. I am sure there are delicious restaurants in each town, but this is where it made sense for us to eat.

The first place we hit was Taverna del Capitano. It is right there in the main square and while I was a bit worried it would cater to tourists, I was pleasantly surprised. As we sat there sipping our wine, we watched all the  neighborhood children running around playing as their parents stopped for a chat. Our waiter, an older man, was one of the most sarcastic, helpful, and hilarious waiters we had on the entire trip. He took the time to really explain what made the local delicacies special and then added that we should take our time, he had to be there until 11 anyway.  I went for the very local trofie al pesto. {Told you I couldn’t wait to try the pesto!} Trofie is a pasta made from chestnut flour that is pretty unique to that region. It’s simplistic, it’s rustic, and it’s so very, very tasty. The Kiwi ended up ordering the black seabream that came with a deliciously simplistic roasted tomato and homemade chips.

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide

On our last night, the Kiwi treated me to dinner at Belforte. The restaurant, which is in the old fort, is one of the nicest restaurants in town. We made a reservation a couple days before just to make sure we would have a table.  The views of the hills and the sun setting over the Mediterranean were just amazing. The staff, who speak perfect English by the way, made you feel like you were a part of their big happy family. Before the trip, I had read that it was one of the things you had to try in Liguria were the anchovies. While neither of us are huge anchovy fans, we decided that if they weren’t good here, they wouldn’t be good anywhere, so we took the plunge and ordered the mixed anchovy antipasti. Some were salted, some were fried, and some were marinated in lemon. It made a believer out of me. My favorite were the salted ones with the little banana peppers. For my main I had a delicious squid ink pasta with shrimp sauce which was better than I could ever have imagined. The Kiwi had a mixture of fried fish, prawns and a huge, spectacular-looking scampi. He says he’d go back. However, the rest of the the meal doesn’t hold a candle to dessert. Caramelized strawberries with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Enough said.

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food GuideKiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide

Kiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food GuideKiwi+Peach: Cinque Terre Food Guide

other Cinque Terre tips

Check what sections of the Sentiero Azzuro are open before you head out to hike. At the moment only the Corniglia to Vernazza and the Vernazza to Monterosso sections are open. There is an alternative route from Manarola to Corniglia though, but it’s definitely a bit harder of a hike than the Trail No. 2. If hiking isn’t your thing though, you can also access the towns by train.

From my take on the towns, I would say that Riomaggiore and Monterosso are the most touristy. If you’re looking to really feel like part of the the town, stay in one of the three middle ones.

The Kiwi thinks that Corniglia would be a great lunch stop, but we can’t vouch for that. I can however vouch for their frozen yogurt. I have no idea what the name of this place was, but if you see a sign for frozen yogurt with fresh squeezed lemon juice, honey, and nuts, go there!

Linked with Travel Tuesdays